Street Food Festival adds weight to Athens as a tourist destination

For the rest of May, locals and visitors can spend their Fridays and weekends at the 2nd Athens Street Food Festival offering roadside style cuisine from Greece and around the world

The 2nd Athens Street Food Festival is offering locals and visitors roadside style cuisine from Greece and around the world in the one venue during the month of May.

The festival was first launched in 2016 after the founders were struck by the burgeoning street food revolution when out and about visiting cities across the world.

"Last year we had over 40,000 visitors to the festival and we expect that to increase quite a lot in 2017," said Stavros Striligas, one of the festival team.

Striligas also promotes music festivals and runs tours in Athens.

"Street food has become very popular over the last few years and we wanted to bring the flavours of the city to the people of Athens in one venue."

Greece is blessed with some of the world's best street food. Hungry locals and travellers are able to choose traditional foods such as souvlaki, cheese pies and breakfast on the run favourite, koulouri, to name just a few.

"Over the last decade the scene has changed drastically in Athens. We are seeing restaurants with different foods opening up all over the city because of the different nationalities coming to live here," he said.

"We are also seeing Greeks reviving food that was popular here in the 60s and 70s.
"We will have around 40 outlets this year selling food from Greece, Thailand, Mexico, Germany, Peru, Turkey, Italy, USA and more.

"Many of the vendors have restaurants in Athens and there will also be six pop up stores. Well known chefs Dimitris Katrivesis, Stefanos Stefanidis, and pastry chef Dimitris Makriniotis will create street food not normally available at their restaurants.
"Last year we had to persuade vendors to be part of the festival. This year we had more enquiries than spaces so we could be selective."

The festival is located in a former trolley bus depot in the popular entertainment district of Gazi. There will be bars for thirsty patrons and prominent radio DJs will crank out tunes while people sample the street food delights.

"We will have DJs but it will not be a music festival," Striligas emphasised.

"The main attraction is the food and the music is there to add to the atmosphere.
"Our two priorities for this festival are cleanliness and no lines for food. We only used half of the venue last year. This year we will use all the space giving more room for people to look around."

While Striligas is very grateful that the Greek Ministry of Tourism is supporting the event, he feels that more could be done to promote his city.

"Athens has a problem where tourists stay one day and then go across to an island. This is the way Greece has been marketed for the last decade. Through events like this festival we want people to see how you can have fun in Athens," he said.

"People go to Santorini because it is beautiful but it is also marketed very well. There is only so much you can do in Santorini compared to a city like Athens and it doesn't have a street food festival.
"There needs to be a centralised campaign so that tourists choose to stay in Athens two or three days rather than just one night.
"There is more to this city than souvlaki and the Parthenon."

The festival started on Friday and will be running over two more weekends, 12-14 and 19-21 May, 2017. The venue is Palio Amaxostasio of OSY (Ermou and Pireos St) 11854 Gazi, Athens, Greece.
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